The Book-Rich Environments Initiative serves as a powerful affirmation of a nation-wide commitment to have public housing serve as a platform and portal for early learning and early school success. That commitment is being endorsed and embraced not only by many of the nation’s public housing agencies but also by civic and community leaders in the more than 285 GLR Campaign Network communities in 42 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The communities listed below are Bright Spots we applaud fo taking up the challenge to increase reading proficiency and improve the overall academic achievement of children in low-income families.
Public Housing Agencies transforming communities into book-rich environments.
- Chandler Public Housing Authority (CPHA) & The City of Phoenix Housing Department (CPHD)
The HA offered the Raising A Reader (RAR) program (which includes weekly book bags) to the families of the Chandler Public Housing community last fall for the first time and served a total of eight adults and 10 children. RAR also was offered to several public housing apartment communities in the city of Phoenix.
- The Housing Authority of the County of Contra Costa (HACCC)
The Contra Costa County HA book distribution partners include REadingADvantage, which works with First Book and Imagination Library. The organization has distributed books to children at the El Pueblo and DeAnza Gardens housing sites since June 2015. The HA also distributes books to new mothers during parent workshops and cohosted events at the Children’s Library with Contra Costa County during wait-list lines and at other community events.
- Housing Authority of the County of Marin (Marin Housing)
Marin HA received a $10,000 grant from the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee in the summer of 2015 to support its literacy and book distribution efforts. The HA provided San Francisco Bay Area families with two-year memberships to ABCmouse.com, and distributed books to children from ONE BOOK. Books and signup for ABCmouse.com were offered through tabling outreach material at Marin City’s Back to School Rally and the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.
- Housing Authority of the County of San Joaquin (OHA)
The University of the Pacific (a local GLR Campaign backbone organization) gives books to kids through its summer literacy program at housing sites. The San Joaquin County HA also partners with Reach Out and Read to provide books to its residents.
- Sarasota Housing Authority (SHA)
Sarasota HA holds a back-to-school event that includes backpacks containing books, with the costs covered by a $3,000 grant from a local bank. The agency’s summer enrichment camps, parent education and Head Start programs include book giveaways with donations from the Early Learning Coalition, police and individual donors. SHA also received books from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County for distribution to its families.
- Tampa Housing Authority (THAFL)
Tampa Housing Authority has teamed up with Hillsborough County Public Schools and several local nonprofit organizations for Read on myON, a community-wide effort to encourage reading and increase literacy rates. The Read on myON project provides children from birth to grade 8 access to a personalized literacy environment with over 4,000 digital books. Partner organizations include the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative, United Way Suncoast, BOCC Head Start, and the Early Learning Coalition.
- Topeka Housing Authority (THA)
Topeka HA works with United Way of Greater Topeka and other partners to distribute books at its family literacy event, Book Bingo. The families who attend those sessions have the opportunity to take multiple books home that night. Books were distributed to kids at Summer Feeding Service Program (SFPS) sites including HA developments, with books acquired through Scholastic, donated by businesses and through local book drives.
- New Bedford Housing Authority (NBHA)
As a member of the GLR Campaign community in New Bedford, the HA is partnering with WGBH in Boston on a book distribution program. The New Bedford GLR Campaign Community received a book grant of $7,500 to be used to purchase books for young children through Scholastic. The community is planning an event for children and families to distribute the books, including to HA families.
- The Housing Authority of Kansas City, Missouri (HAKC)
The Kansas City HA is getting books to families in one of its housing sites (Choteau Courts) through the Imagination Library program. Turn the Page KC has provided books to families in the “Phoenix Family” low-income housing communities via First Book.
- Durham Housing Authority (DHA)
Durham Housing Authority has recently partnered with Book Harvest to provide books to DHA’s public housing communities. Its first book distribution National Night Out was held on August 2, working alongside police officers and resident leaders in each community. There are eight DHA communities that have large numbers of families, many of which also have resident councils we could work with. Six have after-school programs that can serve as book distribution sites.
- San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA)
San Antonio Housing Authority opened the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech, the second branch of the BiblioTech Digital Library and the country’s first digital library branch located in a public housing community. The library branch is part of the Gardens of San Juan Square public housing complex located in Bexar County, Texas. It offers residents easy access to computers, e-readers, and over 38,000 e-books. BiblioTech has partnered with 14 school districts and 58 schools to reach students and provide individualized e-readers adjusted to student’s reading levels and goals. Through HUD’s ConnectHome Wi-Fi program, students have 24/7 access to the digital book collection.
- City of Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA)
The Lansdowne Park public housing site benefits from a collaborative partnership between the Roanoke Police Department Reads, Total Action for Progress (TAP) and several public schools. Uniformed police officers read to children enrolled in TAP Head Start, creating a positive association with both uniformed officers and books.
- Tacoma Housing Authority (THA)
Tacoma HA provides summer learning programming that includes meals and distribution of books as part of its strategy to close the achievement gap. Public librarians and the local PBS affiliate KTBC provide literacy activities for primary grade students at summer lunch sites in the parks and at Housing Authority developments.